Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our flight to Singapore

I won't type much, because I took a ton of pictures, and they're pretty self explanatory.
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Our flight to Singapore was on a C17, a giant cargo plane, that was headed to Diego Garcia, which is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, where there's a U.S. military base. The base is just a dinky little outpost, and it's one of the places that's restricted to Active Duty military people only, but the flight there always stops in Sing.
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The plane's mission is to carry whatever supplies are needed in Diego, but it has seats for about 60 people when it's not completely full of cargo. The flight on this day had room for 15 people, so there were only 11 other people besides us on board.
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Passenger comfort is second to cargo placement and safety on these flights, so if you're looking for 1st class service, these flights definitely aren't for you! But, the crew was extremely gracious and did their very best to make sure we were as comfortable as possible.
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We arrived at the airport at 4:15a and waiting anxiously for the roll call at 4:45 to find out whether we'd made the flight. it was gut wrenching, and the only part of this whole experience that I really hated. I was very nervous because there were supposed to be 32 seats available, but there ended up being only 15, but our names were the first called! Woo hoo!
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These are the flights leaving the base. This schedule is updated everyday with the projected flights for the next 48 - 72 hrs. But remember, none of these flights are guaranteed to take off on time, or in some cases, at all.
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We boarded a bus to be ferried out to the plane
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Because these planes are meant for hauling cargo, not people, there's no sound-proofing or insulation on the walls, so it's very loud. We were all given ear plugs to wear during the flight.
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Waiting for take off

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Looking towards the back
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Our plane was named "The Husky Hauler" because it's based out of Alaska
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One teeny, tiny bathroom
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Four guys crashed wherever they could find a spot. There are two on top of the cargo, one over to the left, and one in the bottom of the pic
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Again, because these aren't passenger planes, and because they're owned by the military, there aren't really any rules that apply to passengers. You're encouraged to bring along whatever you need for a comfortable trip, including food and sleeping bags. You're free to spread out wherever you'd like. This was towards the end of the flight during our second round of naps. The first time, Gabi and O were camped out on the floor, while E and I stretched out on the seats. It was actually really nice, the first time I've ever been able to actually sleep on a flight!
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The cockpit crew were all so nice (and soooo young, I swear not one of them was a day over 25!) They told us all about the different buttons and gizmos, explained the basics of flying the plane, let us listen in on radio trasmissions. I don't know who enjoyed it more, me, or the kids! That's our pilot Reid, beside him the co-pilot Trey, and beside Ethan the navigator, Adam.
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It was an awesome flight, the 7 hours went by so quickly! It was a great experience flying in a real, working, military aircraft and I'm so happy we had the opportunity to do it!

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9 comments:

thefukases said...

Oh wow. What an experience! How are you ever going to keep Ethan in his seat on your next commercial trip? ;P

And those pilots really do look young... or am I just feeling old? *sigh*

illahee said...

that's so awesome!

we never got to do that (my dad was stationed in the US for most of my life) though i hear that my mom got to take 'boat' rides to haiti (or whatever carribean country is closest to cuba) for shopping trips or whatever when they were stationed in gitmo. can't wait to hear more about your trip!!

gigihawaii said...

I don't think I could tolerate the stress of not knowing way in advance the time of my flight and the hotel I would be staying at. But, this was an enjoyable blog post! Something to remember!

Slime said...

Fukases - I was amazed that E actually slept about 4.5 of the 7 hrs, on both flights! Probably because we were up by 4a both times, so between watching movies and candy bribes, I was able to keep him pretty well contained for the other 2.5 hrs!

Illahee - Wow! Gitmo? How long were they there? My dad had all his "exotic" assignments before I came along too: Africa, Thailand and Portugal!

Gigi - I knew going into that nothing was guaranteed and there was a very good chance we wouldn't fly, so I was prepared. This wasn't our family vacation, that's always booked and paid for, it was just a "wouldn't it be nice if we could get to Singapore" kind of thing. But it was still really stressful, and so difficult for the kids to stay ambivalent, Gabi actually cried when we didn't make the Tues flight was cancelled! But I'm so glad we tried it and that it worked out pretty well! Have you started planning your trip? So far only 3 cases of piggy flu in Singapore!

gigihawaii said...

Brenda, we are going to visit the observatory on Mauna Kea in September so Singy will have to wait til next year.

Looking forward to seeing the stars and planets under arctic conditions. It is freezing at the summit!

Yeah, I am into astronomy nowadays.

illahee said...

i think my dad was stationed in cuba for three years, and my mom was there for two (we was sent over there before they married.) i was actually born there, but we left when i was still an infant.

gaijin wife said...

OMG! How amazing! And no damn 'seatbelt' signs I imagine. A little boys dream! Definitely on a list of 'wow that would cool to do but probably never be able to do it'

Slime said...

GW - Ethan was definitely in heaven, and sorely disappointed when our flight home had regular seats, and seatbelts: "This is NOT my plane!" "This isn't the good one!"

Robin Vistnes said...

You are still getting to go on "adventures!"